Superior Energy ( SPN) said first-quarter earnings rose from a year ago, easily beating analysts' forecasts, because of strong demand in the Gulf of Mexico region.

The Harvey, La., oilfield services firm earned $7.5 million, or 10 cents a share, on revenue of $123.2 million, in the latest quarter, up from earnings of $5.8 million, or 8 cents a share, on revenue of $104.8 million a year ago. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 7 cents a share in the latest quarter.

The company said demand for certain production-related services and equipment in the Gulf of Mexico was at its "strongest level since the fourth quarter of 2001" during the quarter. It also saw higher rentals of various kinds of equipment in Texas because of higher drilling activity there.

"Although the timing is unclear, overall we believe the stage is set for a broader upturn in the Gulf of Mexico, given the improving performance of our production-related service businesses, relatively stable pricing for our liftboats and higher demand for certain rental tools," the company said.

The shares were recently up 25 cents, or about 3%, to $9.35.